Kevin Holland Criticized For Not Taking Stephen Thompson Down

Kevin Holland’s decision to enforce a no-takedown rule in his fight with Stephen Thompson at UFC On ESPN 42 on Saturday night certainly made for an entertaining fight, with some declaring the stand-up battle that ensued a potential candidate for ‘Fight Of The Year’ honors, but meanwhile others have criticized the star for sticking to that game-plan.

“We see all the time, people say, ‘The first one to shoot is a coward,’” Bisping said on the ESPN+ post-fight show. “But then guess what, people shoot, because you know what, it’s allowed in the rules. It’s a mixed martial arts contest. This was one of the first times, and maybe the only time, I’ve actually seen somebody truly live up to that.

“Kevin Holland had top position. Clearly. A couple of times, he was like, ‘No, no, no. We’re going to strike. That’s what we came here to do.’ I believe he will regret that decision going forward, because that was his ego getting the better of him.

“This is not a popularity contest in terms of, ‘Oh, everyone thinks I’m a real badass guy.’ No, you come here to win a fight. This is high stakes. Do you want to be a champion? Do you want to earn a lot of money? Do you want to be known as one of the best fighters in the world, or a guy who puts on a show and possibly gives away a victory. That was not high fight IQ.”

Holland also came under fire from UFC middleweight Derek Brunson, who mocked Holland for attempting to outstrike one of the sport’s most credentialed strikers.

“Kevin Holland the type of guy who’d try to out moonwalk Michael Jackson , Kevin Holland the type of guy who’d try to out sing Beyoncé , Kevin Holland the type of guy who’d try to out eat Joey Chestnut, Kevin Holland the type of guy who’d try out kickbox an 50-0 kickboxer, 😂😂” Brunson wrote.

Meanwhile, Thompson confirmed that Holland had actually told him early in the fight that he wouldn’t go for takedowns, though he also revealed that he had a change of heart later in the fight.

“He told me in the first round, ‘I’m not taking you down,'” Thompson recalled post-fight. “All right, sounds good to me. It was kind of one of those handshakes we had in the first round, nobody was going to go down.

“At the end, he started to shoot [for takedowns], and I was like, ‘Hey, I thought you weren’t going to shoot!’ And he was like, ‘I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.’”

By that stage Thompson was very much in the ascendency and Holland was taking a beating, so it’s hard to blame him for looking to switch things up – particularly as his manager has since confirmed that he had broken his hand in three places in the opening five minutes of the fight.

Holland will now undergo surgery to repair the damage to his third, fourth and fifth metacarpel bones in his right hand, and at this stage there’s no indication of when he’ll be ready to return to action.

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.